Comparison of Great Expectations and Oliver Twist

Danielle Wills
Compare and contrast the opening chapters of Great Expectations and Oliver Twist
The bildungsroman genre was very popular in the Victorian era. Dickens and many of his contempories wrote books based around this genre, which are now extremely well known. But what is Bildungsroman A Bildungsroman novel tells a story of an individual??™s growth and development. It also follows an individual on a journey, where they gain a place in society and an understanding of meaningful existence within that society. The process of the individual??™s maturity is often long, difficult and very gradual.
During the Victorian Era, in England, a publishing trend rose to popularity in the world of the novel called serialized fiction. The greatest novelists of the time, including Charles Dickens, George Eliot, William Thackeray and Joseph Conrad, chose to publish their newest works of fiction in instalments. These instalments ran in popular magazines and newspapers or were produced in cheaply bound sections over a period of many months. Because this format was more affordable, people outside of the upper class could purchase books for the first time. The publishing phenomenon sparked a growth not only in the number of people desiring to read, but also in literacy rates.
Oliver Twist and great expectations are both great novels by the same talented Novelist, Charles Dickens. Both novels follow the traditional Victorian bildungsroman genre but tell the stories of two boys raring to go on two completely different journeys into maturity. Oliver Twist is an eponym of the main character, Oliver Twist. This novel also has an alternative title, ???The Parish Boys Progress???. The alternative title broadens who the story could be about, instead of it revolving around one individual it could be about any Parish Boy. ???Parish Boy??™ depicts no progress but the title ???Oliver Twist??™ suggests that there could be some sort of progress for the main character because he isn??™t branded as an object but instead an individual. Great Expectations, a story about a child named Pip. The title of this novel ???Great Expectations??? relates to Pips ???Great Expectations??? which are ever-evolving. The title also alludes to the idea of great things to come or things that are expected to come but arent there yet. The main characters name, Pip, is a pun on the bildungsroman genre. Like the main character in the bildungsroman novel, a pip grows and evolves into something of maturity and power.
Great expectations, unlike Oliver Twist is written in the first person. I think we become closer to Pip then we do Oliver because we imagine Pip writing the novel and can therefore get a better idea of his emotions throughout the book. The first chapter of Great Expectations introduces the childish imagination of young Pip on his visit to his parent??™s gravestones. ???The shape of the letters on my fathers, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, ???Also Georgina Wife of the above,” I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.??? Out of the letters of his fathers and mothers names he derives an image of his parents bodily form. The terrifying experiences of Pip in the opening chapters are contrasted with Dickens dry humour, of Pips childish understanding of the world. Such as being beaten is what being brought up “by hand” actually means.


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